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Introducing Cagayan Valley Chocolates

Chocolate drink is already part of Cagayan Valley’s culture. It has been a popular snack offered during special occasions such as weddings, birthdays and graduation. It is also present in offerings during rituals and wakes. 

Locally made chocolate powders are common and ordinary to villagers. But today, chocolate’s potential for trade and commerce in the global market is evident. It is now one among the industries that the government wants to strengthen as another commodity that could help propel the national economy.

In Cagayan Valley Region, the Cacao industry is thriving as various government instrumentalities assist local farmers produce quality cacao products, from growing cacao trees to processing of cacao beans into by-products that are potential for commercial trade.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) region 2 Regional Director Romleah P. Ocampo, the number of farmers embracing cacao farming is increasing in the region.

She said they have already assisted 132 micro small and medium entrepreneurs engaged in cacao production with 227 jobs generated. 

Ocampo also said there were already estimated P7.7 million in investments generated and P2.2 million domestic sales as of August 2023.

Officials from DTI Region 2 visit a cacao plantation in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan. (Photo courtesy of DRTI 2)

The cacao balls or chocolate balls and tablea of Tuguegarao City, Lasam, Baggao, Sanchez Mira, Claveria, and Tuao towns in Cagayan province are perhaps among the famous products produced out of cacao beans in the region. It has been part of exhibits in various food trade expositions locally.

The chocolate bars of Isabela and Quirino Provinces are now being introduced in the market while the chocolate candy of Lasam, Cagayan and Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya is now making its name in food expositions as a unique village product. 

There are also other products that are being introduced in the local market such as the cacao powder that can be used in ‘champorado’ and other delicacies, and dark chocolates- some with spicy flavor.

Romeo Panopio II, Trade Industry Development Specialist and the DTI R2 regional cacao focal person, said cacao farmers also produce fermented dried cacao beans which they offer to local cacao processors in Region 2 and outside the region.

Elementary pupils in Lasam, Cagayan get a taste of the locally produced chocolates during the 2023 World Chocolate Day celebration. (Photo courtesy of DTI 2)

To ensure the sustainability of the thriving industry, various agencies have been conducting capacity building activities with the interested cacao farmers. Recently, DTI conducted training with cacao farmers on good agricultural practices and capacitated them on the economics of value-adding in cacao processing. 

“The training aimed to address challenges faced by cacao farmers and improve their agricultural practices on pruning techniques, rejuvenation, rehabilitation, pest and sieges control, as well as the benefits of value-adding processes for cacao,” Panopio said. 

Officials of DTI Region 2 and the Local Government Unit of Lasam, Cagayan lead the tree planting activity in Lasam, Cagayan. (Image by DTI 2) 

Cacao farmers are also actively participating in the conduct of massive tree planting activities in partnership with the local government units, partner stakeholders, and the local communities.

“This is not only to support the growth of the cacao industry in the region but also to help promote reforestation and biodiversity conservation in Isabela,” a cacao farmer said. 

In Quirino province, Macaria Cabe, High Value Crops provincial coordinator, said they have recently presented some strategies on how to enhance productivity, improve product quality, and explore new markets of the cacao industry.

She said that in the recent training conducted for the cacao farmers, innovative technologies and best practices to streamline production processes and enhance product value were discussed. 

In Nueva Vizcaya, the Department of Agriculture Region 2 vowed to support the cacao growers.

Bethzaida Duruin, Agriculturist II, said there are about 747 hectares of cacao plantation in region 2 where Cagayan province has 12.53 percent share, Nueva Vizcaya has 4.5 percent while others are located in Isabela and Quirino provinces.  

Some of the products assisted by the Department of Trade and Industry Region 2. (Image by DTI 2)

A 2.5 hectares cacao plantation owned by Engineer Gorge Abad was recently showcased to aspiring cacao growers for them to appreciate the new interventions applied on the rehabilitation of 2-year old cacao trees through fertilization. 

With these efforts of the government, officials and cacao farmers are optimistic to further improve the production of quality cacao products for international markets. (ALM/OTB/PIA Cagayan)

About the Author

Oliver Baccay

Information Officer IV

Region 2

  • Assistant Regional Director, Philippine Information Agency Region 2
  • Graduate of Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication 
  • Graduate of Master of Arts in Education, major in English
  • Graduate of Doctor in Public Administration

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